YOU ARE HERE: zharth.net / Burning Man / Journal - Day 15
I feel too tired to tell this story right now, but here goes. This morning, early on in the driving day, somewhere near the eastern border of Nebraska, I had an encounter with a state trooper. When the car pulled up behind me, I naturally got nervous, even though his lights weren't on. I eventually pulled into a rest area, and the cop kept going, so I figured it was a coincidence. I rested my heart, had a brownie, and bam - cop in the window! He had pulled into the space beside me at the rest stop without my notice.
Despite how nervous I was, I think I handled the situation remarkably calmly. It helped that I legitimately had nothing to hide, but still, cops are scary. It also helped that, despite his suspicions, the cop was also very friendly. After a number of questions, ultimately leading to a search of the van, I realized the cop's motivation - apparently he was convinced that we were heavy drug traffickers - two young guys in a dusty minivan traveling eastward across Nebraska, from a heavy drug zone (the southwest - apparently) heading for other parts of the country. Seriously, he was looking for large quantities of drugs and money - not just a little bit of weed. And he seemed genuinely disappointed when he didn't find anything.
It was nerve-racking at first, before I knew I was innocent, but once I figured out what was going on, and I knew there was nothing to be afraid of, I immediately recognized the relative humour of the situation. I've been confused for a druggie and a drug dealer many times before, but a heavy drug trafficker? This is one for the books. If the cop hadn't been so friendly, I'd be much less happy about the whole thing, but as it stands, I'll chock it up to a wild story I'll be able to tell for years down the road.
As for the rest of the day, we finally got some rain - lots of it. Streets even got a bit treacherous after dark as we approached the greater Chicago area. Got a nice free rinse for the car though - although that dust is quite resilient, and the rain did nothing for the dust inside the car.
Despite the delay, we got into Lansing around 9, and got a nice room at the Red Roof Inn across the street from the Howard Johnson we stayed at on the way out. Much nicer than the HJ, and still cheap. No free breakfast, though. We had dinner at a nearby IHOP, which is kind of like Eat'N'Park, but better. I had pancakes, appropriately, with strawberries and bananas. Delicious. I'm full, and exhausted, now. I'm thinking of hitting Uno's in the morning for an early lunch (if they're open) before heading out on that final home stretch - to make up for the mushroom fiasco last time. We'll see - right now, I crave sleep...